. . . . . . Enjoying the journey of quilting

Monday, February 4, 2013

Tutorial for Grid Quilting

For my tutorial for grid quilting I am using a quilt that has been in the making for at least 1 year due to life events preventing me from finishing of which one was beginning my home based accounting business. Now that I have achieved a good number of clients I can relax a bit and get back to some quilting! Sew Bitter Sweet Designs is hosting a Lovely Year of Finishes, a challenge for us to complete a work in progress or unfinished project. This is the incentive I need. Now to the grid quilting:
  • The first thing I do is clean and oil my machine, the bobbin casing area, and clear off the tabletop. I use a 2 inch paint brush, the cleaning brush that came with my sewing machine, and a soft piece of cotton batting. Clean the bobbin casing after replacing each new bobbin. Cotton fuzz will accumulate and can cause possible thread nesting.
  • Exchange the needle for a new needle - either a Scheetz Quilting Needle or a Scheetz Jeans Needle. I change out a needle for every 4 to 5 bobbins. If you notice your machine sounds noisier it may be due to a worn out needle.
  • I wind at least 4-5 bobbins. I am using Superior's Bottom Thread for both the top and bottom. 
  • Since I am grid quilting I will attached my walking foot so it will evenly pull the fabric across the plate.
  • I mark my quilt as I go since I am using a chalk marker. The brand is General's Pastel Chalk.
  • I rotate between using GrabARoo's gloves and Norwegian Formula hand cream made by Neutrogena. The hand cream is grease less and will not stain the quilt keeping your fingers from not slipping across the fabric. I use GrabARoo's when stitching in the center of the quilt.They give me more control preventing the quilt from moving and allowing for straight line stitching.

My machine came with a walking foot. If yours didn't check your sewing machine retailer. They cost between $60-$75. The function of the walking foot is to feed your bottom fabric through with the top fabric evenly. Prevents some fabrics from slipping as it has it's own set of feed dogs that move in a walking motion over the fabric.  It is easily connected by removing your normal sewing foot and putting the walking foot on in it's place. The arm sits over the needle clamp screw.

 Here I have rolled an edge so that it is easier to manage the bulk and weight of the quilt and guiding the quilt under the walking foot.

Draw a stitching line the length of the quilt. In this instance it is a diagonal line from edge to edge using a 1 inch wide and 12 inches long ruler. Begin from the center of the quilt and work your way toward the end of the quilt.

Working from the center outward will keep the quilt top and quilt bottom smooth and prevent the fabric from bunching up. Depending on your grid design you may want to draw several lines before stitching. I usually don't mark the whole quilt when marking with chalk. Constant handling will wear the chalk off. You may choose to use a blue water soluble marker. I have had some successes with them and a couple times have been very dissatisfied using them. Reason being you don't know for sure if the marks will wash out. Linda French, a longarmer, did a series of tests and has documented her results in her report, "What Quilt Marker Should I Use?, for different markers by their type and brand name. It is informative and great information to keep on hand. She has successfully used most chalks.

 Once you begin stitching on a drawn line you will begin to notice the weight of the quilt. It helps if you have a table with a leaf that extends from the back and the left side of your sewing table. Another alternative is having another table at the back of your sewing table. You can use your ironing board on the left side of your sewing table to help support the weight. I happen to have a quilting table with the extensions.  My sewing machine sits down in the table and is flush with my sewing table top. If this isn't an option for you may be able to purchase an acrylic extension table for a reasonable price.

Notice that my needle is down. I set my machine so when my machine stops it rests with the needle down. This helps from keeping the quilt shifting while you are readjusting the weight of the fabric so that it isn't dragging. Dragging will cause irregular stitching size. I reposition the weight of the quilt about every 4-5 inches, especially when sewing in the center of the quilt.

I keep a magnet close by to catch safety pins as I remove them from the quilt. Once it can't accept anymore safety pins I swooped them into the container.

Wearing GrabARoos's helps to control the bulk and weight of the quilt while stitching. I keep fingertips touching the quilt while holding palm off the quilt. This is the same position for free motion quilting as well.

Check out Grabaroos - Home Page

Other ideas for grid marking.
  • Instead of marking with a pen use painters tape to create your stitching guideline.
  • Want something more creative see The Stencil Company's Grid stencils.
    • mini grids
    • diagonal grids
    • diamond grids
    • circular grids
    • organic grid quilting

Once I have completed stitching in one direction I will begin the same process as above but stitching diagonally in the opposite direction creating a cross hatch. On this particular quilt the grid will be more like a plaid rather than a grid.

Happy Quilting!


  1. Lots of great tips there. I have never had the guts to attempt a full size quilt on the machine for quilting. I expect I will be back for some of these tips again.

  2. Thank you for the inspiration! :)


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